Ed O’Donnell – Follow up

“The Progress of the Century,” Currier & Ives, 1876

“The Progress of the Century,” Currier & Ives, 1876

In a program held October 13, 2009, Ed O’Donnell discussed “The Transformation of Antebellum America.”  The main themes he identified in teaching the content were:

Three Revolutions

  1. The Transportation Revolution
  2. The Communication Revolution
  3. The Market Revolution

Two Migrations

  1. Immigration
  2. Westward Expansion

Two Ideas

  1. Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion
  2. Perfectionism and the Reform Impulse (Abolition)

O’Donnell applied this particular context to his broader approach to teaching history, which involves:

Conflict: Finding and Exploring Conflict and Debate

Agency: Recognizing How People Shape Their Era

Choices: History is the Study of Choices – Nothing is inevitable!

Relevance: Make Connections (carefully) to the Present

Documents and Images

With images, O’Donnell advocates using the SIGHT method:

Scan for important details

Identify the conflict or tension

Guess the creator’s intent or message

Hear the voices

Talk or write about your observations


SIGHT Analysis Worksheet

Historical Habits of the Mind – Bradley Commission

History Quotes

Competing Visions – Exploitation or Conservation

Commemorative Plaque – blank

I’ll be interested in hearing how people use this material in their classrooms!


One response to “Ed O’Donnell – Follow up

  1. Thanks for the outline. I can’t download the SIGHT or the Quotes hand-outs.

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